Here’s a Labour election promise that may be gathering dust (but we hope not) somewhere down in the archives

Economist Brian Easton, writing on Pundit, reminds us of Labour’s election manifesto promise to make the Chief Archivist an officer of Parliament.  But fulfilling this promise has taken so long, “there must be a problem”.

It’s an office that only occasionally makes it into the headlines.

In March, Archives New Zealand announced that the Chief Archivist had issued a General Notice under section 20 of the Public Records Act 2005 exercising his authority to implement a moratorium on the disposal of any records relevant to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions.

A few weeks earlier, as reported by the Otago Daily Times, he

 … made a rare foray into the spotlight, to say he would not be prosecuting former Radio NZ chairman Richard Griffin for not supplying a voicemail left on his phone by Dunedin South MP Clare Curran.

Despite the importance of keeping and maintaining records, Richard Foy said the matter did not meet the threshold for prosecution for a breach of the Public Records Act. Continue reading “Here’s a Labour election promise that may be gathering dust (but we hope not) somewhere down in the archives”

The Left is intending to enhance our democracy but the Right reckons this will create a “slobocracy”

We are bemused by Justice Minister Andrew Little’s justification – or part of it – for introducing legislation allowing people to enrol on election day next year.

He told Morning Report this was about making sure the rules were the same for every voter.

Is he seriously trying to tell us the rules are not the same for every voter now?

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman – taking issue with National Party concerns about the proposed change – spouted a similar absurdity.

“We have a democracy that we’re very proud of in New Zealand and it’s important that everyone gets to have access to it in an equal way.”

Umm – but everyone has access to it now in an equal way.

That’s not to say the system can’t be improved. Continue reading “The Left is intending to enhance our democracy but the Right reckons this will create a “slobocracy””

In the days before wellbeing our focus was on GDP – and hey, Robertson reckons we should be cheered by the latest data

Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson was   pretty  chipper about the state of the  NZ  economy  when  he took questions  in  Parliament  on the latest  GDP  data.  He reckons the  economy continues to  grow “solidly”, in the  face of  global  headwinds.

Noting the  economy had expanded 2.7%  in the March year, with   growth of  0.6% in the last quarter, he  was  particularly  pleased   with the construction sector’s  3.7% growth.

In  summary – plenty to be cheerful  about”.

He  was   especially  chuffed the latest GDP data shows NZ continues to outpace many of its international peers.  It grew faster than Australia, Canada, the UK, the euro area, and the OECD average. Continue reading “In the days before wellbeing our focus was on GDP – and hey, Robertson reckons we should be cheered by the latest data”

The absence of emotive media reports and silence from the lobbyists does not mean the housing “crisis” has been fixed

So  what  happened  to  New Zealand’s housing  “crisis”?    Was it   real, or  just another imagined but emotive issue akin to “peak oil”,  the fetish of the  Green  Party back at the turn of the century which was accompanied by grim forebodings that  the world  would run out of  oil  by  2006?

Surely it  was  not  just a  figment  of  our – or the public’s – imagination!  After all, the media  for  months  carried   nightly   images  of the hundreds of homeless  on the streets,  people  living in  garages  or –  if they were  lucky – people being accommodated at state expense in  motels.

That  was  in  the run-up  to  the general  election. Continue reading “The absence of emotive media reports and silence from the lobbyists does not mean the housing “crisis” has been fixed”

David Seymour’s Herculean challenges: getting 14 MPs into Parliament (really?) and flattening the tax rate

A Flat Tax: The Good, the Bad and Why It Probably Won’t Happen was the headline on an article published in Money Talks News – pitched at an American audience – in 2014.

Act leader David Seymour, who included a flat tax among the policies he unveiled at the weekend, should take note.  Even if he was to get 14 MPs into Parliament (anyone putting money on that very, very long shot?), all the other Parliamentarian will vote to stick with a progressive income tax system.

But that’s no reason for a debate to be stifled.

The article in Money Talks News took the complex US Federal tax code into considerations (the code comprised 73,954 pages in 2013 and included seven tax rates, four standard deductions and at least a dozen tax credits for individuals. Then there were exemptions, itemised deductions and the special tax rules.

Why not eliminate all those hoops and simply tax everyone using the same percentage?

The answer was that it depends on who you ask. Continue reading “David Seymour’s Herculean challenges: getting 14 MPs into Parliament (really?) and flattening the tax rate”

Fallout from the Hisco affair is bound to spread to RBNZ moves to regulate bank capital

Pressure may be mounting for  a  broad  inquiry into  the banking industry following recent incidents involving  the biggest trading  bank in NZ.

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor  said this week  banks  are  “bullies”  (according to a  Radio NZ report).  It’s a  sentiment shared  by  many  New Zealanders.

This  sentiment has  been rekindled by the departure  of ANZ’s CEO  David Hisco  who, it had been found, passed off charges for chauffeur-driven cars and the cost of storing his wine collection as business rather than personal expenses.

ANZ suffered a couple of regulatory blows last month with the Reserve Bank forcing it to hold more capital against housing and farm lending from June 30 and to use the standardised model for calculating its operational risk capital (ORC) rather than its own internal model.  That’s because it had been using a modified internal model for calculating ORC since December 2014 without first getting RBNZ approval. Continue reading “Fallout from the Hisco affair is bound to spread to RBNZ moves to regulate bank capital”

A flat tax? Alas, RNZ burnt up its interview time while grilling Seymour about free speech and the racism bogey

RNZ’s Morning Report yesterday led us to hope we would hear something about the attractions of a flat tax, an idea once promoted by Roger Douglas when he was Minister of Finance in the Lange government.

A flat tax – adopted in some American states and European countries – is among the tax reforms favoured by the Act party as it tries to refresh its image.

We were led to believe the Morning Report team would kick this around with Act leader David Seymour just before 8am yesterday because they mentioned it in their introduction to an interview with him.  

Presenter Corin Dann said Act is targeting free speech “and radical tax reform” as it works to lift voter support heading into next year’s election.

The party had re-launched with the slogan ‘Act for freedom’. Continue reading “A flat tax? Alas, RNZ burnt up its interview time while grilling Seymour about free speech and the racism bogey”

Pacific Reset has climate change challenges in its sights – but China is a consideration, too

Defence Minister Ron Mark, when restating the government’s Pacific Reset at the multi-national Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore earlier this month, explained a shift in regional and operational imperatives.

He said:

“The Reset is both a vision, and a commitment to lift our ambition as part of the Pacific community. It is about changing our mind-set toaddress the increasingly complex issues in our region. It emphasises both what we are doing in the region, as well as how we operate.  Foremost, it is about genuine partnership and mutual respect.  In many ways the Pacific region is where NZ matters most and can have a more positive impact.  It is our neighbourhood, and where we most certainly act locally.

“Through our Strategic Defence Policy Statement, we raised the priority placed on our Defence Force’s ability to operate in the Pacific to the same level as New Zealand’s territory, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.”

The Defence Capability Plan fleshed out this policy shift with details of new spending on ships, aircraft and surveillance by satellite and remotely-piloted vehicles. Continue reading “Pacific Reset has climate change challenges in its sights – but China is a consideration, too”

Will a no-deal Brexit be the EU’s parting gift to Britain?

It’s a fair guess that the winner of the Conservative party leadership contest (and thus the UK’s next PM) will be committed to leaving the EU on 31 October.  But come that date, will the UK leave with an agreement or without one (putting aside the less likely option of not leaving at all).

From the British perspective, the agreement required can be seen as modest: letting UK transition (as a complete united kingdom) to an independent trading and regulatory model, but one aligned with Europe.  Not a million miles from the deal initialed with the EU by soon-to-be-departing PM Theresa May.

Continue reading “Will a no-deal Brexit be the EU’s parting gift to Britain?”

$56.1m to sort out Maori land ownership – but Mahuta will be cheered if the land remains undeveloped

Delivering for Māori and the whenua.  

In this, Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced that Budget 2019 has allocated $56.1 million over four years towards implementing the Whenua Māori Programme which Mahuta announced in February.  

She described this as “a strategic investment into the development of whenua, Māori freehold landowners and their whānau.”

Among the objectives, the programme will support Māori landowners, trustees and whānau including those who are ready to apply for further  public funding through the Provincial Growth Fund.  Continue reading “$56.1m to sort out Maori land ownership – but Mahuta will be cheered if the land remains undeveloped”